WV leads ten states in letter seeking immediate legislative action to fix ACA problems

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says recent events show the implementation of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is not proceeding in a manner that best protects consumers’ interests. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and attorneys general from nine other states sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her and the Obama administration to support immediate legislative action to mitigate systemic implementation problems within the Affordable Care Act.

The five-page letter also was signed by attorneys general in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. It highlights three areas of concern the attorneys general have with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act: the many statutory and regulatory delays, the significant technological difficulties and the security of consumers’ private information.

“Advocates and opponents of the Affordable Care Act can agree on one thing: the rollout of the health insurance exchange for individuals has been plagued with unimaginable problems,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “At best it has been a frustrating exercise in futility for the millions of Americans who thought they would be able to sign up for lower-priced insurance or simply keep their existing doctors and insurance. At worst, it has shown that our deep concerns about citizens’ well-being and privacy were spot on.

“As attorneys general, we are obligated to fight to protect our consumers, and thus far the implementation of ACA has been disastrous for them,” Morrisey continued. “We hope the Obama administration and members of Congress will put partisan politics aside and work together on legislation to fix the mounting problems with the law and its implementation.”

In the letter, the attorneys general highlight a number of statutory provisions that have been delayed thus far, including the cap on consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses, the small business health insurance exchange, and the mandate requiring large employers to provide health insurance. After it was clear people could not sign up for health insurance on the government’s own website, the administration unilaterally decided to postpone the deadline when uninsured citizens had to have insurance or face a penalty on their taxes.

“All of those delays have been implemented in contradiction to what is in the law that Congress approved,” Morrisey said. “While I agree the law is unworkable as is, the executive branch cannot just decide to ignore one part of a law passed by the legislative branch while moving forward with other parts.”

The letter also highlights the immense technical difficulties the system has experienced since opening on Oct. 1. The website where people are supposed to enroll is extremely difficult to use and has resulted in consumers encountering numerous “glitches” when they try to create an account, find information on policies, and pricing and update their information. Insurers also are reporting problems, such as duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, and missing data fields.

The attorneys general’s biggest concern, however, still centers on the privacy and security of consumer information. The letter highlights a number of cybersecurity red flags experts have identified, including the website’s inability to block third-party access to cookies containing personal information.

“We have many serious concerns about the implementation of the ACA so far and we hope Congress and the Administration will take immediate steps to mitigate these problems,” Morrisey said.